The 2020 D.K. Sessions.
By Dilan Carestia.
All 📷: @davisvision.
How did a niche division in an already niche sport sell out all available spots in 2020 of all years?
I’ve spoken to you before about how I usually opt to ride a rectangle of foam in the foot-knee position.
We’ll return to that point later. Dropknee bodyboarding competition is a weird “sport”. Bodyboarding itself is already a niche “sport”, and then to divide the proverbial small cake into a smaller slice seems, well, foolish.
Yet, fools will always chase fools gold. Why? Because its fooking fun. That’s why.
The DKS (Drop Knee Sessions) comp has been running since 2002, since fellow mini human Crispin Hughes took out the first comp in Oz boogie Mecca Port Mac. Around that time I myself found I was parting ways with bat tails and gradually choosing smaller nose boards.It’s a strange formula. Niche division, in a niche sport, gathering in a small town on the NSW coast to crown champions.
However, the line-up of competitors that this event has attracted remains a testament to the quality of the overall competition and standard, and work put in by event organiser Clayton Pickworth.
Riders from around the world have made the pilgrimage to DKS, from places such as Japan, Hawaii & mainland USA, South America, Canary Islands, and pretty much anywhere you could throw a dart.
Personally, I never saw myself in a final. I always saw the standard so high that on any given day, the rider that surfs through to the podium in DKS to engrave their name on the eternal trophy cup will really have to earn it against the world’s best, in often rapidly changing conditions.
Simply, if you won, it was never a fluke.
You earn that shit.
My first DKS? No, I didn’t pop my cherry that first year, I was still learning to get a foot up then. My first DKS was 2006, an event which brought international foot-knee riders to converge in this coastal town. I remember arriving by myself, fresh out of school with no companions, in a car I didn’t expect to make the drive, and Mason Rose coming up to me for a chat on the beach that first morning. He was someone I really looked up to (still do), from all the videos and mags, so to have him giving me advice and looking after me that trip probably says more about Mase than the and others at that event ever know.
I look through the winners and entrants, guys that contribute to the epic memories of an annual pilgrimage of my life. Luke Hall, Ballard, Pope-on-a rope, Sharpy, Ducky, Thatcher, DCoy, Klimo, Lackey, Welshy, Malony, Dubb, Azza… You could rattle on names forever, crew that continue to show up and blow up, and have a bloody good time. It’s a long list.That’s one of the thing about DKS. It’s like this little cult gathering.
However, while often surfers can get overly competitive and territorial, at DKS there’s a camaraderie like no other event. The closest I can describe it is to skating, where someone cracks a great run in the bowl and all other skaters salute with cheers of admiration, clapping, whistling and smacking their trucks against the coping. At DKS, sure, everyone wants to out-do each other, but I’ve never been part of a crew the pushed each other with such a common thread held tight from belonging to the most “niche” of sports.
A couple of years back, we had the pleasure of a DKS “tour”, with multiple events from around the Foster region one week, then up to Port Mac the next. The memory bank grows fuzzy at this mention, but all I do know for sure is that we all hung out together, had beers and BBQ’s, and somewhere in there, someone caught waves that got their names on the trophy.
Actually, now that we mention it, I remember one of these DKS series, and myself and Sully were driving visiting international riders Colin Black, Micah McMullin and Bud Miyamoto 6hrs through traffic back from Port to Sydney, and we pulled up at my old folk’s place late in the night. I opened their door and yelled “Hello?!”, just as Micah (all 6’6” pure Hawaiian weapon that he is) ran through their living room unannounced to use the can.
I’m still giggling at the confused looks on the face of my folks!
The quality event and guaranteed good times kept bringing the big names. My one regret is not being there the year demigod of the foot-knee stance Paul Roach joined, as I was out with an injury. That cut deep. After missing out on surfing with Roach, this year I drove down with my crutches beside me after an injury, and walked down the beach on a walking stick. Missing Roach made me wake up to not ever missing out, no matter what.
Again, I could rattle on the list of names that have graced the podium or even just the draw over the years, but it means more than names. Those names over the years gather bonds and memories, the reason we got into this quirky shit.
When I asked event organiser Picko to sum it up, his first response was to throw back to the courtroom speech in iconic Aussie film “The Castle”:
“It’s the vibe of it. It’s the constitution. It’s Mabo. It’s justice. It’s law. It’s the vibe, and ah, no that’s it. It’s the vibe. I rest my case”.
Picko nailed it there. “It’s the vibe” is also a big part of the reason so many sponsors want to back this event, even during a global pandemic when businesses are only just holding on.
They want to be a part of it. Even in 2020. Especially in 2020.
In closing, I’ll say that for anyone, even those riders amongst the elite, it is bloody hard to earn your name upon that trophy at DKS. If you did, you deserve it. But if you threw your hat in the ring and came hung out, your will not forget it.
Upon exiting the final, while graciously accepting the trophy from Picko on the shore, Ducky apparently mumbled
“FINALLY got my name on this f#@%er!”.
Sums it up mate.
I look forward to all the DKS pilgrimages ahead with everyone, both repeat offenders and new recruits. Goodtimes had, goodtimes ahead.
PS- Only seems fitting that Ducky would pop his DKS cherry on the 18th birthday of the event. I’ll leave that as it is. That is all. Cheers.